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Working Group on Promoting Freedom of Opinion and Expression

Background

Freedom of expression is one of the anchors of democracy, as emphasized in the Warsaw Declaration and in every declaration on human rights and democracy. However, this freedom is constantly threatened and restricted by governments that wish to undermine public opinion and criticism. With a view of combating such trends, the Working Group on Promoting Freedom of Opinion and Expression was established. 

Objectives and Areas of Work

The Community of Democracies Working Group on Promoting Freedom of Opinion and Expression (FOE) seeks to foster collaboration among CoD participating states and civil society organizations to promote FOE worldwide and to counter the growing trend in many regions of the world to suppress FOE.  Areas of collaboration include coordinated multilateral activity and consensus-building initiatives, joint advocacy and programmatic initiatives to address journalist safety and restrictive measures, as well as support for civil society working on FOE issues.

Membership and Participation

The Working Group is co-chaired by the United States and Uruguay. Both countries are respected regional and global role models of democracy, sharing and supporting the values of the Community of Democracies. 

Recently, on March 1, 2015, Tabare Vazquez entered office as the 7th elected President of Uruguay since the restoration of democracy in the country in 1985. Vazquez was elected in November 2014, in an electoral process widely praised for being free, fair, transparent and peaceful. 

Poland is a Member State of the Working Group. Non-governmental membership of the group includes the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights, Committee to Protect JournalistsArticle 19, Human Rights First, the Open Society Policy Center and the International Center for Not for Profit Law. If you are interested in joining the Working Group, please see contact information below.

Activities

In March 2015, the Working Group organized in Geneva a special workshop on freedom of artistic expression. The workshop, organized in conjunction with the meeting of the CD Governing Council at the margins of the United Nations Human Rights Council, brought together a number of prominent artists and activists from around the world, to discuss threats to freedom of artistic expression. The Working Group continues to coordinate multilateral engagement on freedom of expression issues and is currently exploring possible side events in New York and Geneva on protection of journalists. 

Contact

For further details, contact WGFreeExpression@community-democracies.org 
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